Oakland Raiders: Fans should be thankful for Charles Woodson


Nov 20, 2014; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders safety Charles Woodson (24) sacks Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith (11) at O.co Coliseum. The Raiders defeated the Chiefs 24-20. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Charles Woodson recorded a sack and six solo tackles in route to the Raiders sealing their first win of the season, about a week ago.

Woodson was more than grateful for the win as he said he needed the win like he needed to breathe. However, the performance made Woodson the only player in NFL history with more than 50 interceptions and 20 sacks while adding a defensive player of the week to an already decorated resume.

With the Thanksgiving holiday here, Raider fans should be thankful to have a first ballot Hall of Famer performing at such a high level in his late thirties. Woodson has not only proved he can still play the game, but he has proved to be the emotional leader of a young Raider team.

No it is not fair a 38-year-old Woodson is the best player on a 1-10 Raider team with nothing to play for.  So with many accolades and much respect from peers, what does Woodson have to play for?

It is clear, Woodson is playing to resurrect the greatness of the Raiders and we should all be thankful for that. As he has said many times, he is here to set the foundation for the future and the entire organization should thank him.

A lot of people forget that the former Heisman Trophy winner was not meeting expectations when he first left Oakland. In 2004 and 2005 Woodson missed 14 starts for those terrible Raider teams, before turning to free agency for a career revival.

The Green Bay Packers were one of the few teams to show any interest in Woodson, but it proved to be a perfect match as Woodson won defensive player of the year and Superbowl XLV.  After Woodson was cut by the Packers he could have retired and left well enough alone, but he didn’t.

He initially said he only wanted to play for a contender but Woodson could not resist the temptation to play in front of Raider Nation as  a group of Raider fans awaited him when he made his free agency visit. Woodson turned down more money from the Denver Broncos to be an Oakland Raider despite the limited success of the franchise since he went to a Superbowl with Oakland in 2002. Because at the end of the day, when you have a championship and so many personal awards, why not play for a nation of fans that will love you and go to war with you?

Still, Woodson has brought more to the franchise than just nostalgia. He initially came into the league as a man corner and return man before developing into a playmaker all-over the field in Green Bay. Since coming to Oakland for round two, Woodson has again evolved his play by becoming a safety doing just about anything.

Anyone who has watched Raider games has seen Woodson make plays. Even if he is not as athletic or consistent as he once was, our team would be far worse without him on the field as he has accumulated 82 tackles through 11 games. With Sparano at the helm, he has looked even more comfortable as a playmaker closer to the line of scrimmage. Hence, everyone should appreciate seeing one of the greatest defensive players continue to impact games on a weekly basis.

Woodson has not only proved to be instrumental with his play but also his words. He has bought into Tony Sparano even with the interim coach going 1-6. He has called out young players D.J. Hayden, Sio Moore and Derek Carr. Woodson could let his play be enough of an example, but holding the young players accountable helps reverse a losing culture deeply engrained in the organization.

The truth is, Woodson is one of the few players who remembers the glory days of the Raiders. The former No. 4 pick helped live them, and Raider fans should be happy he sacrifices his body on a weekly basis to help this franchise return to glory. Moreover, we should be happy Woodson wants to continue to do that into next season and beyond.